Category Archives: Captain’s Log

Travelogue

Say hi to Grandma for me II

Sawaddee my friends!

Thank you for your messages. I left in such a big hurry and I couldn’t be more specific with the details. I apologize.

First, the Red Cross Society. Here is the website. Please select “To support the Thai Red Cross activities”. The money will be going to the general fund. You can donate in USD. Once you click through the process, it’ll ask who you are donating on behalf of. Go ahead and say that it is in honor of Mrs. Chongdee Phromyothi.

My mom is at Wat That Thong (at the foot of the Ekamai BTS station), Sala 7. The monks start the chanting at 7 p.m. between now and Sunday. On Sunday, the cremation ceremony will be held at 4 p.m.

**

The flight was smooth and once again, it’s soooo good to fly straight through. Plus, I was very lucky with my tickets. It seemed I paid a very small price for an overbooked Economy seating so I ended up in Premium Economy with even roomier seat and real silverware! The flight attendants also moved me from my window seat after seating another passenger in the window seat.

“We’ll put you over here in the middle seat, so you can have the whole row to yourself.”

It’s good to look young. They thought I was a teenager traveling alone, as I found out! Hahaha! The lady who moved me wasn’t going to serve me wine, and that how we got things straightened out.

“You’re not 18, are you?” You have to be 18 on the international flight to be served alcohol, apparently.

“Would you believe me if I told you I’m 30?”

This 40-ish-looking flight attendant (which probably means she’s older than that) said, “If you’re 30, that makes me 15.” She laughed and poured me wine.

Oh, and yes, I did go shopping. Lily scored a 30-50% discount coupon at Central Department Store. We found 3 black “respectable” (read: not from the bargain Lalaisapp Alley for a change!) items each for less than $100. I am set for the funeral now. I did grab as many black items I could find from home, but I wasn’t sure if they’d be appropriate.

Speaking of which, I lost my mom’s skirt somehow. A few trips ago, she had given me this black chiffony skirt. I wore that to work a few weeks ago and I swore I washed it. I wanted to wear it for the funeral, but we flipped the house looking for the thing and it was nowhere to be found.

I think mom took it back or hid it somewhere so that I would buy new skirts. Not liking my choice of clothing? That sounds like mom to me. Hahah!

**

CIMG3232This is the picture we use for her funeral. This was Mommy at my oldest brother’s wedding. Her hair had just fallen out from chemo so she was working the wig. And worked it she did! Look at her!

Like one of those paintings that follow you around the room, people keep saying that no matter where you sit in the funeral, you can see her beaming at you.

She always smiles at her guests, my mother. Even from beyond, she still is the hostess with the mostest!

Last night was my first night at the temple. You wouldn’t believe the amount of funeral wreaths sent to her! I mean, Thai wreaths are like 3 ft. and up in size! (I’ll take some pictures tonight). We have to juggle the one inside, next to the coffin, with the VIPs who are hosting the evening’s praying and any other important guests who would be coming. For example, last night was hosted by Nike, my brother’s employer and tonight a co-hosting by my dad’s company and my sister-in-law’s company.

But anyway, we ran out of space for the flowers inside the funeral parlor…I guess that what we’ll call it in English…and yes, our “sala” is A/C. Traditionally, a “sala” is essentially a huge gazebo. More wreaths lined the outside. We would have to double up on the outdoor rows as the nights go.

Also overflowing out of the sala were guests. My mom’s friends and our family turn up from everywhere. We had to set extra chairs outside. And we almost ran out of those too.

She was much loved. Still is.

At some point, her friends and my mom’s side of the family were discussing the transportation to get to the scattering of her ashes. They couldn’t agree on who should do it and how they should do it. Aunty Sida turned to my mom’s coffin.

“Noi!” She blurted out my mom’s nickname. Everyone went quiet for a second. She continued to address the coffin.

“Can you make up their minds for them, please? They’re driving me up the wall!”

Everyone laughed.

Aunty Sida is my mom’s bestest friend since high school. They’ve been through everything together. The message on her wreath for my mom said, “I love you. From Sida and Tenn (her son).” She hand-wrote on it, just under I love you, “And I will be your best friend in every life after this.”

Another funny thing happened at the sala. My mom hated cats. And yet this one black temple kitten kept following me all over the sala earlier in the evening. Well, I did pet her first. And also true, I did have a sandwich in my hand, but that wasn’t the point. I even talked to her in English and she understood. Well, I didn’t shoo her out, but pointed her out, pointed and said, “Out!” and closed the glass door behind her. But she managed to come back in behind some guests to see me later but left once the place got crowded.

Oh, Brandon. I wish I could take her home. A skinny short haired Thai mutt of a kitten! :)

Sunday is the cremation. Monday morning, about 40 of family and friends are off to Sattaheep to the Navy yard, get on a ship and scatter mom somewhere in the ocean. (Thank GOD I have extra Bonine for the sea voyage! Y’all know about me and boats.)

And after that, since I’m the only one not working, I’ll be sorting through her belongings and coordinate with the aunties for donation.

My mom was a fashionista. Originally, she had 2 closets. When I left, she took over mine too plus adding 2 removable racks where my desk is. Going through all of that by myself is going to be like hacking my way through the Amazon rain forest with a Swiss army knife.

Anyways. That is pretty much what I’ll be doing for the next two weeks.

Again, thank you guys for stopping by and for your kind words. I will keep you updated.

Say hi to grandma for me

My mom passed away around 5:30 p.m. PST or 7:30 a.m. August 21 Bangkok time.

I’m taking the 11 p.m. flight out tonight. It’s a non-stop from LAX to BKK so there will be no update until I get there.

If you’d like to do anything, please check out Thai Red Cross Society website and make a donation. That’s my mom’s favorite charity. May it be meals for the infirmed monks, or disaster relief. Whatever you’d pick. I’d link this for you guys but I don’t have time right now.

Those in Thailand, we will be at Wat That Thong, Sala 7. Cremation ceremony is scheduled for this Sunday.

So, off I go. Will be back to update once I getover there and settle in.

Sleepwalking

I slept from 8:30 p.m. to 10 a.m. this morning.

Yes, that would be PST. I am back, y’all.

I did wake up, startled, a few times last night, a little disoriented as where I was and what time it was, and I tossed and turned for a good hour or so around 3-4 a.m. Brandon handed me the phone around 6 a.m. which I muttered something to Nhien. I don’t really remember what I said then and she told me later she didn’t understand what I said either but figured that meant I wasn’t coming in today.

Well, at least I didn’t leave a message in Thai.

I am employing the “staying in the sun during daylight hour” method the best I can to beat the jet lag. I drudged out to get lunch and some grocery shopping all over town and probably will get back out and wash the car here in a minute. I actually don’t really remember my drive. This is a little scary.
My body thinks it’s almost 6 a.m. so I think I’ll feel less groggy soon.

Oh god. The bed looks really really comfy…it’s dark in there…and cool…..

Arrrrgh!!!

Partly, I think the reason why I just want to crawl into bed and stay there is the piece of news from dad last night.

They met with oncologist and he confirms that there is a cancer spot in my mom’s left lung, the side untouched originally. They didn’t see it earlier at the other hospital because it was the spot behind her heart. The new x-ray came in from a different angle and that is when they saw it.

Pretty much all we can do is treat whatever conditions mom has aside from cancer. Right now, it’s the lung infection. And whatever is going on with her digestive tracks. Yet another mystery to solve. Can someone please call Dr. House?

Dad said we’re looking at a month or two. But hey, mom has marched on for two years…not too good of a quality of life the past 4 months, given…but hey, she’s still around.

Dad also said to be prepared for the worst. “Tamm Jai” in Thai, literally means “prepare your heart”, but pretty much for you to accept what is to come, to surrender to the inevitable.

I told him that I am prepared.

It was really hard leaving mom’s side the other day. I did ask if she’d miss me, and she blinked “yes”. I said goodbye and my voice started to quiver.

I didn’t cry in front of her. She doesn’t need that. Not from me.

Can I just go to sleep and wake up when I need to go home? Can I? Please?

Homeward Bound

Once again, hello from Taipei airport. This time I only have about half and hour to kill so I will be brief.

First, updates from a few days of activities.

Friday didn’t happen as planned altogether. We didn’t have family dinner because a) dad had meeting that ran very late and might as well because b) I had a migraine so bad I wanted to take a spoon to my right eye and scoop the brain behind it out. Girls night out also was postponed to Saturday night.

Saturday was a bunch of happy coincidences. First, lunch with Bua, my twin sister from another life, at Siam Paragon. We hit it off as if we were friends for years! She was very late to the appointment but during that time I did really get into “Little Children” the novel. Can’t wait to finish the book and see the movie! Bua and I did a little shopping up at MaNGo and Zara as well. I came out with 2 things, one to wear out partying later that night.

One of the plans was to meet up with Bua and Kitty at Club Culture for the night out. But then Tong made dinner plan with her girlfriends, conveniently next door to all of the clubs both of us–me, the “foreigner” and them the locals–can enjoy. So, I went with Tong and the clan instead.  (Sorry, girls!)
We started with some wine and dessert at Fuzio, an upscale Italian restaurant atop the Min Cooper dealership on the 6th floor, where the ladies already had dinner. We then walked over to Nang Len, a hugely popular club for Thais, but couldn’t squeeze in the place so we veered off 20 paces into Escobar. Finally I get to see where Bua & Kitty hang out! Hahah! They were playing hip hop galore and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The girls on the other hand enjoyed the Thai Party Pack (whiskey and mixers) while watching the 2 hottie twin model boys with pony tails dance with a bunch of sexy Thai models in skimpy little dresses. Gosh, those boys HAVE to be gay! They didn’t even touch that Girl in White who was shaking it up all over them. LOL. Plenty of eye candies for those who like the “Imports”, if you know what I mean. ;-)

Once the girl got bored, we moved on to try once again to squeeze into Nang Len. About 20 ft. into the crushing crowd, I told Tong I’m getting the fuck out because I wasn’t getting any air. It was THAT crowded.  A second later, the entire group concurred and they backed out after me.

All the way out, down the little street into, once again, Tong’s usual haunt, Gigabyte. The house band still rocked everyone’s sock off with today Thai hits and a bunch of re-envisioned classics.  I gladly sat by, sipping my beer next to some dude, and watched my girls finally had their fun.  My shoes were killing me anyway.  Might as well.

Fern, the sexy and sassy one who reminds me of Samantha from Sex and the City, suggested that they send me a CD of Thai MP3s so I can get into it with them next time.

But we all had a fantastic time. And once again, I had to drink the dish water that is Corona and Heineken to get my buzz.  *sigh*
I can’t wait to have a real beer when I get back. New Castle. Guinness. Either one. Come to mama!

Sunday was spent entirely with mom. When dad and Onk came to pick me up to go to family dinner, I tried my damnest not to cry when I say good bye to mom. I did walk away and cried by the door, waiting for those two to say good night. I cried all the way down the elevator.

For dinner, we went to L’Opera, the wine bar side, in Sukhumvit. Actually, it’s called the Opera Riserva.  The food was terrific. The atmosphere awesome. It was a little expensive for Thai standards but moderate for foreigners. About $40 per person, but that’s a large plate of meat antipasto, a salad, 3 pasta dishes, 1 Australian tenderloin, 1 medium pizza, 3 desserts, 2 shots of Limoncello AND a bottle of Merlot.  Not bad really for the restaurant  of that caliber. We were the only Thais in the entire place!

And now I’m here. :) Gotta got get on my plane now. Will do some restaurant review and emotional check in with y’all later.

See you on the other side!

Stillness

Mom has been sleeping on and off most of the day today. Not much to report but the lung infection is still there and there seems to be something else going on as well.

Well, let’s see what I’ve been up to since the last time we talked.

Wednesday, we moved mom from BNH to Chulalongkorn Hospital. Just as we were ready to move her, mom went and developed a high fever so they kept her a few more hours. During that time, I was shuttled to my dentist. You know your dentist really cares about you when he actually came into the office just for me. He usually comes in every other Wednesday and the day I was there was supposed to be his off day. “I didn’t see you last year,” he said, “so I thought I’d come in.” He is also looking into some kind of fluoride foam for mom to use.

I heart my dentist.

Lily came to pick me up that evening and we went to MBK for dinner and to walk around, hunting for some cell phone charms. Mom surprised all of us when Lily showed up.

“Have you eaten?” she asked.

“You asked her a question. Do you even know who she is?” teased Kob, the caregiver.

“Lily” mom replied.

That was the most she has said in days.

By the time Lily and I got to MBK most stalls have closed already. Then we walked over to the National Stadium to meet with May. She played already but she was there watching. We hung out a while then Lily and I headed home.

Thursday was a bit less eventful. I went early to get a haircut but ended up touristing it at Starbucks for almost and hour waiting for the place to open. Then I was at the hospital with mom the rest of the day. She didn’t play with us at all. The switch was off.

May came over later in the evening and mom, who usually warms up to new people, didn’t even acknowledge her. A surprise to us.

Later on, dad came to get me. We went to Central World Plaza, my first time there since they renovated the place. I was in awe at how cool it is there now. Dad and I hit the Food Loft, had Vietnamese and Korean Bi Bim Bop with a glass each of Australian wine. Talk about international cuisine. Then we ran back to the theater for “Live Free or Die Hard”…aka. Die Hard 4.0 here in Asia. I was amazed that I managed to fall asleep here and there through out the movie. I never fall asleep at a movie! But hey, a glass of wine and a boring story can do that do you.

Today was an all day at the hospital. Mom was asleep off and on all day so there wasn’t much to report. I left earlier than I planned because a) it’s raining and b) with the way she’s been all day, I don’t think mom would know I went home already.

Tonight is dinner with the family. Tomorrow I suppose to meet up with my blogger girls, Kitty and Bua. And as I read over at Kitty’s, they have something planned for me. I’d better call them to confirm. :) I asked Tong and Lily to take me out as well…so I have to coordinate now.

*sigh*

…I need a real vacation after this…

Comedy Bits

Another sign of madness. I just paid $3 for 1 hour of internet at the hospital, thinking that I can catch people at the office and do a little work while we wait to transfer my mom.

It’s 11 a.m. here. For some reasons I thought it’s 9 a.m. PST…when it is actually 9 p.m.

Somebody needs her Starbucks.

But since I already paid for it, I might as well just use up the hour.

*

There has been as surge of street walkers around Lumpini Park since I left. When we were driving mom to the ER on Friday, my dad told me to keep a look out.

“Does that remind you of Hollywood Boulevard?” he asked as we rounded the corner from Sarasin, a famous little strip of clubs. Accordingly to my brothers, Sarasin has turned into a little West Hollywood except for the one bar that hasn’t changed since the 70s, the Brown Sugar.

And sure enough, girls in super short skirts lined the streets, waiting for customers.

“Isn’t this a wrong market for the girls?” I asked. “Wait. Are those REAL girls?”

Hey, we have some awesomely beautiful ladyboys around here. I had to ask!

On the way back from the hospital around 2 a.m., my brother started to tell me to watch the park as well. We only saw one on this side of the park instead of the throng of them my dad and I saw earlier.

“That’s pretty slow for a Friday night,” Onk said.

“Well, it’s late. Market’s closed,” dad added.

*

My mom is a huge fan of Academy Fantasia. The mix of American Idol and Big Brother got the whole country in a frenzy. This is their 4th year, I think. Saturday night is performance night so we were trying to determine if the hospital TV has the channel. The concert with commercials is on the public TV channel 9, but the all access is on the special cable channel. The same one that airs the footage of the AF house all day.

“What channel is it on?” dad asked Kob, the caregiver.

“Well, it’s channel 16 on cable. But (becauase we have a few “unofficial” cable boxes in teh house) it’s channel 25 in the dining room at your house.”

Onk added, “And 37 in my room. Oh, and if you want to watch it, Oakley, I think it’s 19 in yours.”

*

I have this purse hook. You know, you can hang your purse on the table if you don’t have a place to hang it behind your chair? It’s a removable metal thing that uses the purse’s weight to keep in place. When Aunty Sida and another aunty took me out to get lunch yesterday, we were in this little hold in the wall noodle place, safe enough for me. The place was full and there was no chair to put the purse.

I busted out the hook and put all of our purse on it and hung them next to me.

“Wow. That’s kind of convenient,” Aunty Sida said.

The other aunty added, “For America maybe. But here, they’d walk off with the bundle.”

Aunty Sida, “Oh, they can take it away. I don’t have any money in it.”

The other aunty, “How are you paying for your lunch?”

Aunty Sida, “With your money.”

*

Yep. We have our moments too. :)